Teaching English in Daegu, South Korea!

Archive for the ‘Culture Shock’ Category

Back in the Grind

Ahh. I am finally getting back to a normal schedule and settling into my apartment! I will add pictures of my new apartment once I actually decorate it. Currently, the only thing vibrant about it is the awesome wall paper of pink and purple hydrangeas. Anyways, as I sit here in my awesome new apartment I can’t help but still think about how great my trip back home was.

Its been almost a month since we’ve come back to Korea (Jeff and I.) Three weeks sounds like a long time but in reality- it felt so short! I will post some of the highlights from my trip-

We were greeted with signs : ) Thank you!!

First beer out with friends : )

Portlandia, Portland, Oregon.

A perfect day with friends at Sauvies Island.

Family Bowling Night.

Hiking with my sister at Multnomah Falls.

Ficken Family Fun Weekend/ Summer Olympics. Jeff and I came in 2nd place.

O'Connor Family BBQ. Fun and BABIES!

More O'Connors. ears...

Classic. ❤

It is hard to look back at these photos because it was just so fun. It was also hard to pick which pictures really capture the feeling of everything that I did. Sometimes there just isn’t even a picture to describe how awesome something was. After my trip back home and all of the love that I received, I knew I would be okay for another year abroad away from family and friends. I know that they love me! I am recharged for another year full of kimchi, English and last minute changes haha. I loved you Portland, you were good to me this summer! Thanks to everyone who made the trip so wonderful!

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Teaching 3rd Grade with a Bee’s Butt.

As I start my second year of teaching, I feel like I need to be looking at things with a more critical eye. Really analyze what and how I am teaching now that I have the hang of things. So as I am watching the CD-Rom for the 3rd graders English class I start to realize…this shit is weird. I mean, of course I have noticed it before, but now I documented it.

Bandi's golden butt.

Tom Tom's grey matter.

This is my textbook for ya. To my teacher friends…don’t judge.

2011-2012 School Year.

The new school year started sometime last week…I think. My first English class was last Friday but the details leading UP to the first day of teaching are equally as interesting my teaching.

It all started the week of Feb 21st. It was a week full of deskwarming and last minute changes and surprises. Tuesday I heard that there would be a meeting with the new teachers who would come to meet the staff AND everyone else would get their assignments. I was anticipating this because I was getting a new contract co teacher and possibly losing my main co teacher.

I met a few new teachers who looked so fresh and wide eyed- ACTUALLY excited! It was nice and refreshing. One of them speaks almost perfect English- score.  Random awards were given to certain people for reasons I have no idea about. Finally it came time for announcing who was teaching each grade along with their class lists.

First grade was called and 2 teachers go up to the principal and choose an envelope from her hand.

Second grade- the same thing.

3rd grade- 3 teachers went up and randomly picked between the three different envelopes.

4th, 5th, and 6th all went through the same process. Wait, what?…the class lists are completely random?

Pick a card, any card type of a magic trick.

During my student teaching last year I was involved in the placing of children to the next grade. It was a careful and thoughtful process. We considered things such as special needs, personality and  structure of the classroom.  It was really hard, but in the end we both felt like it was a good place for the students. Watching how all homeroom teachers and students are completely random was really weird for me.  I felt like it was another example of how students are never really thought of in the equation of their learning.

I realize that because of the way that Korean schools are structured its impossible to go through a process even close to how my teacher did last year. (Korean teachers get new assignments each year potentially. It is usually up to the Principal and Vice Principal what each teacher’s assignment will be for the year. -people don’t apply for a second grade position, most like A POSITION IN DAEGU, then they get a 5th grade job at my school. )

I wonder what their reasoning is? I think that it does have a positive- it is COMPLETELY objective and random. No favoritism is played.

Should I be shocked? Is it really that bad? I just worry about students involvement in their learning on a day to day basis. They are rarely considered.

Anyways, they are all in their new homerooms and they are cute as ever. I saw a lot of familiar faces. One face that I didn’t recognize stared at me in the lunch room then got up and introduced herself. What a brave soul. I don’t know where she came from but I am glad that she is here.

co-teachers:

2 new, 1 same. One new English teacher came to my school and I feel really lucky to have her. She is nice and WILLING to let me teach. Interested in my ideas- so far. Easy going and doesn’t believe that she has to be a hard ass to gain their respect. Her English is great and she has traveled around the world- including the USA!

Other new English teacher is actually the head teacher of the school. She is the third in command to the Principal and Vice Principal. It is a little nerve racking but she likes me, so I just have to keep smiling.

TEXTBOOKS.

The textbooks are ‘updated.’ They are just so silly. The characters however, don’t have Korean English accents. Nami can now say “Is Peter THEre?” I’m so proud of her. haha

Below are the new English books for 3rd and 4th grade. This year is the first year that each school had the responsibility of choosing the new books. As opposed to every other year where EVERY SCHOOL HAS THE SAME BOOK. Thus, www.waygook.org was created haha.

3rd and 4th grade textbooks. ©Camtu

I welcome this new year and hope that all the hard work I put in these past 6 months show for something in the next 6 months!

Lost Footage: My New Roommate-Moldy Molderton.

A few months after I moved into my apartment I began to feel really happy with it. Hanging pictures up, rearranging things to optimize my space. I started think “oh my, this apartment is so cute.”

One evening, back in October, Jeff and I were eating dinner and I was looking past his head and I saw a black mark on the wall. I assumed that I had bumped it with something that was black. I got up to take a closer look at it…

it was black…

it was fuzzy…

it was alive…

My first sighting of the mold.

Another view of the black mold growing on my wall.

There was mold growing on my wall. Before coming to Korea I was frightened by the prospect of mold growing in my apartment after reading about Jimmy and Rachel’s experience on their blog. (Strangelands.) They had a mold problem but theirs was more of a mystery about WHERE the mold was.

The black mold was cramping the style of my beautiful, flower wallpaper as you can see.

After my discovery, I was so shocked. I didn’t even know what to do next. It wasn’t even hot outside! How could there be mold growing on my wall? In an open area, really? I decided not to touch it or else it might want to release mold spores and get in my lungs to make them bleed! …thats worst case scenario… I also had to hurry to Korean class downtown so I couldn’t handle it just yet. During class all I could think about was what that mold was doing in my apartment. Was it throwing a party? Was it growing bigger,  bigger and BIGGER!? On my way home I picked up some clorox bleach and a few other gadgets to try to work some anti-mold magic.

The result of my purchase…

 

I tried to kill it with bleach but all I managed to do was find out that there was more underneath and ruin my wall paper.

Gah, I just felt more scared after splashing mold on it and trying to just ‘grab’ the mold. IT really didn’t work that way. I ended up doing anything I could to try to get rid of it. I have never really dealt with this type of a situation but I am sure that this was not right. To add another factor in- I have  an allergy to mold so I was really scared about my breathing. So, I did the only thing I think of. I used plastic.

 

My attempt to NOT breath in the toxic mold fumes was to put a piece of plastic around it and SEAL it off. Ultimately it became a really great breeding place for more mold.

 

Yeah, so I found more mold. Yeah, so it might not have been the brightest thing to do but  I was desperate.

 

Breeding ground.

 

 

 

 

 

I broke down after this, I called my coteacher. I might have sounded panicked and hysterical. (note to self don’t ever do that again.) She said that she would come to my house the next day.

The next day…

My coteacher seemed really short with me, and was kind of avoiding me.  She didn’t want to discuss the mold whatsoever. Actually, she thought it was very funny that I was reacting so strongly. I tried my best after that to be as calm as possible, but come on, it was my health. At the end of the day we headed to my apartment. After taking a look at it (through the plastic barrier) she went to get the landlord. The landlord came to look at it and didn’t really believe it was mold. She needed her husband to take a look at it, so he would try later that night or the next night. It was the next night.

The next night, I dropped my keys off to the landlord and headed for Korean class. I asked my co teacher to please explain HOW important it is to keep the plastic on. whether or not that plastic was doing anything, the placebo effect was working on me. After class I came home to the plastic on the floor along with little bits of mold. It was basically just ripped off and exposing itself to the rest of the apartment. Thanks. They were unable to do anything else until the next Monday so I stayed away from my place for the weekend.

Monday ( a week from the first sighting) the job was going to get done while I was at school. As it turned out, the prior tenant wanted to hang a picture up on his wall, thats fine. The only catch is that all of the walls are solid concrete. Oh, this didn’t stop him. He took a nail and a hammer and he hammered that nail in nice and good. So good in fact that it was rest in a water pipe. That puncture to the water pipe had grown bigger and water was running into the wall, causing mold to grow from under the wall paper.

 

The crack in the wall from the previous tenant who wanted to hang up a picture on a concrete wall with a nail.

After they 'patched' the leak in the pipes and re-cemented my wall.

Currently, over this giant patch of exposed concrete hangs a picture that Jeff and I painted together in Jinju at the light festival. Thats my Moldy Molderton tale, and I hope to never meet him again.

I CAN teach. Wow, I needed an affirmation.

Winter camp was so much fun! While other native teachers were cursing their 1 week of camp I was “yes-uh”ing to 3 full weeks. It was so great that I didn’t want regular school to start back up…

After the feeling of success from week 1; I had 2 more full weeks. This is when the drama started to kick in. My winter camps were project-based. After I finished my first week of camp she told me that I should have collected all of the projects from the students to show the principal what we did. In addition to showing the principal another reason she said was so that I could keep it for an open class. At the open class I could put all of the materials out on a table to show people…

I said; “I can’t, they are not my projects to take. They belong to the students.”

Her response- “Well, I think that they would love to give it to you if you say something like ; “Who wants to be a helper of English?” “Who wants to give me your projects?”

Yeah, I am sure they would give them to me, but I don’t think its right to ask them. All they want to do is ‘please’ the teacher so they will comply and give them up. To me, taking their projects away from them says- this wasn’t really that important. This issue kept lingering but I found ways around it.

  • I asked the class who wanted to help make the same projects during their free time- but as a group. So it could serve as an example and it would display a couple different examples of student work. My co teacher was a little irritated and still insisted that I take their work but I stood true to my belief.

I don’t blame her though, the projects were pretty cool:

A book cover for a book displaying their likes and dislikes.

A family tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

English camp!

 

Self-portrait. I look like..../ I like...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like/ I don't like...

 

I don't like boys. Ohh 4th grade.

 

 

 

 

5th and 6th grade camp highlights…

 

Passport-6th grade.

Day of the Dead Art.

One example of the passport that we used to document all the “places” we went.

 

 

 

Self-portrait- 5th grade.

Self-portrait- 6th grade.

To the left-He decided to depict himself as dead in his self-portrait- “like grandfather!” he says.

To the right-She was a camper this week, but this girl saved my life as one of my teachers aids.

 

 

Maraca.

 

Musical chairs- 5th and 6th grade.

 

Musical Chairs to Colombian music while shakin’ our maracas. FUN!!

World Map- how we tracked where we were going in the world.

Now that its over and school has started back up I feel so much more confident teaching English. I think that the students now have confidence in me as well, and that means a lot. I look forward to Summer Camp!

20 3rd grade Korean Students. Me. 2 6th grade Korean ‘Teachers Aids.’ Ahh Winter Camp ^^

Winter vacation is over and done with but it was a whole mess of fun. The whole month of January and most of February Korean students and teachers are on break. Aside from the couple of teachers who come to the school to “keep it from being stolen,” no one comes to school. This is where Native English teachers come in handy. We are required to come to school everyday whether or not you have a class to teach. You might be asking yourself- what do you do then? Well my friend, welcome to Korea, where deskwarming is a part of our professional job. Many people have blogged about this before, my friend Erin talks of her deskwarming conflicts in her blog. Anyways, this is not the point- but I am deskwarming RIGHT NOW.

During Winter vacation I did not have to desk warm because I was crazy busy with my own winter camp.  I was given full responsibility for 3 weeks of winter camp. I would not have a Korean teacher there for those tough language barrier experiences. Well, I had a KT there twice a week, but…she saw it as my camp so stayed away. Whatever. I was determed to show my entire school that I can teach. Before WC started I got so many looks of pitty. “By herself?,” they would say. “Oh good luck.” “How will you discipline?” “How will you blah blah blah…?” The same way I do with every class- make sure they know what their expectations are. I had a week before WC started officially at school and I was busy rearranging the room from a rigid in rows type of feel to a group vibe.

One group. Yes they are still in rows.

Wall of helpful phrases. This saved my life- I used it too!

I was able to set up the room pretty much however I wanted. I wanted groups, stations and an accessible library. I set up a system for game check out and gave students about 30-40 minutes at the end of the day for some choice time.

 

My co teacher and my four 6th grade assistants helped me to compile this list of useful phrases. My co teacher wants to keep it during school- yay! So onward I went for 3 full weeks of camp from 9-12:10 every day.

Week1- 3rd graders. Oh boy was I nervous for the first day of Winter Camp. It’s not like I hadn’t overly prepared for it but I really didn’t know what to expect. I had prepared something for them to do when they showed up, so the students had something to transition themselves into camp. They all learned how to write their names in English by the end of the week because every morning they practiced writing their name about 10 times. The theme for this week was- me, me, me! Some highlights from camp can only be followed up by their adorable pictures. My words wouldn’t do them justice.

Tracing each other while studying body parts, they thought I was CRAZY for suggesting this.

Self- portrait from the beginner camp.

We had a nice batch of snow : ) We wanted to make a snowman together!

Don't be fooled. She wanted to throw that at someone.

Studying 'likes' and 'dislikes.'

I do not like what...

Oh, I don't like bags= bugs!

I know its crooked, but he does not like crows...he hates the sound that they make.

This song was learned about different ways to answer the question- "Hello, how are you?"

The first closing ceremony of Winter Camp.

I didn’t want this group to leave. By Wednesday we were all in a groove and I got to know them all a lot better! Even though we had a language barrier we all had our laughs and little class inside jokes. It was a nice feeling. I miss having one group of students to teach all day- makes me really miss Mrs. Taber and our 2nd graders last year. I didn’t have too much time to think about how much I would miss this group because I had to get ready for the 4th graders next week!

Hey, I went to China.

Trying to get the classic "I'm jumping and am at the Great Wall of China" picture but couldn't master it. Anyways, I went to the Great Wall of China!

More on that later, coming up:

*Winter Camp SUCCESS

*Top 5 good’s and bad’s in my experience (yes, Beamish, thank you for your criticism I have been working hard compiling lists.)

*Jeff and Shaynaynay got to Beijinggggggggg! HIIII-YAA~

I should have a lot of time at school in the near future since I can not plan for the upcoming new year since I don’t know what the “new” textbook looks like so I should be nursing my blog.